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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

Listen to the the music tracks

Las sans espoir

Guillaume Boni

Source : ‘Chansons sur des poèmes de Ronsard’; ensemble Clément Janequin; dir. Dominique Visse; Harmonia mundi ‘Musique d’abord’ HMA 1951491 (1994, 2001).

Caption

(text by Pierre de Ronsard, Élégies, mascarades & bergerie, 1565;sonnet inserted in the 1567 edition of Second livre des Amours).

Guillaume Boni was a composer from Saint-Flour in the Auvergne, and was a member of Cardinal Georges d’Armagnac's humanist circle. D'Armagnac was bishop of Rodez and Cahors, and was ambassador to Venice. On 6 January 1554, he baptised the future Henri IV at Pau. When he was appointed archbishop of Toulouse in 1562, he made Boni responsible for the music at the Saint-Sernin cathedral. In 1565, when passing through Toulouse, Charles IX was dazzled by Boni's music, and asked for copies of several works. Surviving works by Boni include two collections of motets, published in 1573 and 1582, three-, four-, five- and six-voice polyphonies of the moral Quatrains by Guy du Faur de Pibrac (1582), and two books of songs for four voices based on the sonnets of Pierre de Ronsard (Paris, A. Le Roy & R. Ballard, 1576); these songs were continually reissued up through 1624 – a rare success.

Transcription (in French)

Las ! sans espoir je languis à grand tort,
Pour la rigueur d’une beauté si fière,
Qui sans ouïr mes pleurs ni ma prière
Rit de mon mal si violent et si fort.

De la beauté dont j’espérais support,
Pour mon service et longue foi première,
Je ne reçois que tourment et misère,
Et pour secours je n’attends que la mort.

Mais telle dame est si sage et si belle
Que si quelqu’un la veut nommer cruelle
En me voyant traité cruellement

Vienne au combat ici je le défie,
Il connaîtra qu’un si dur traitement
Pour ses vertus m’est une douce vie.

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